After CBC revealed a distinguished coach was promoted regardless of allegations of inappropriate behaviour, then allowed to resign voluntarily after he failed to enhance on that behaviour, Canada’s sport minister says Gymnastics Canada wrongfully gave the coach “a straightforward means out.”
On Monday, a CBC Information investigation detailed how the CEO of Gymnastics Canada, Ian Moss, allegedly knew of considerations about well-known and well-respected coach Alex Bard earlier than he named him to run the nation’s ladies’s inventive gymnastics program.
Bard has coached gymnastics in Canada for 4 many years, however a number of folks say he was additionally recognized for alleged inappropriate actions.
Three former workers members and coaches with Gymnastics Canada confirmed there have been formal and casual complaints made about Bard over a number of years, lengthy earlier than his rise to the highest of the ranks.
The allegations, which haven’t been confirmed and have by no means led to prices, included behaving abusively towards feminine coaches and athletes, and kissing, touching and stoking worry in younger gymnasts.
Gymnastics Canada is without doubt one of the nation’s largest nationwide sport organizations, with greater than 310,000 registered athletes. It’s the major pipeline for growing Canadian gymnasts with aspirations to compete on the world stage, together with the Olympics.
In a press release to CBC, federal sport minister Pascale St-Onge mentioned “poisonous teaching practices and cultures of silence are deeply entrenched” inside nationwide sport organizations, and people organizations want to alter.
“Coaches who’re accused of such behaviours needs to be investigated and never be given a straightforward means out,” the minister’s assertion reads.
“All of us — mother and father, coaches, officers, directors, and volunteers — should have zero tolerance for abuse and maltreatment of athletes, and I hope that message is obvious to everybody.”
Lengthy-time Canadian gymnastics coach Alex Bard, seen right here in the course of the 2000 Canadian Olympic trials, was recognized to kiss his younger feminine gymnasts. Federal sport minister Pascale St-Onge labelled this as one of many ‘outdated teaching strategies’ utilized by coaches like Bard. (TSN)
Leaders should reply shortly to allegations of abuse, minister says
St-Onge mentioned the onus is on anybody ready of energy inside a nationwide sport group, reminiscent of Gymnastics Canada.
“Individuals in management positions have to act as quickly as they change into conscious of abuse or maltreatment of any form inside their group, act responsibly, and be accountable for change,” the assertion learn.
“It is a requirement for good governance and administration.”
Considered one of Bard’s supervisors at Gymnastics Canada, Karl Balisch, acknowledged to CBC about considerations expressed to him relating to Bard’s behaviour.
Balisch would depart the group in 2018 and at the moment works as the manager director of Archery Canada.
Nonetheless, Bard was promoted the identical yr Balisch left, and simply months after Moss — who was the group’s excessive efficiency director on the time — additionally acknowledged considerations about Bard’s behaviour, in response to a supply.
Bard was then pushed out in 2019 as a result of failing to enhance on his behaviour, in response to a letter from Moss to the Gymnastics Canada board of administrators.
St-Onge’s workplace referred to as most of the allegations in opposition to Bard “outdated teaching strategies.”
Alex Bard, seen right here teaching on the Bluewater Gymnastics Membership in Sarnia, Ont., in August 2019, has continued to educate at varied golf equipment throughout Canada. (Bluewater Gymnastics Membership Inc./Fb)
Bard allowed to resign
As first reported by TSN, Bard was given the selection to resign or face an inside investigation. He informed TSN he had “nothing to show” and walked away, however he continues to educate younger gymnasts throughout Canada.
Moss informed CBC he did the very best he might with the knowledge out there when he acquired the assorted considerations.
“There have been numerous casual considerations that have been put ahead that we handled by way of behaviour, after which there was one formal grievance that got here round inappropriate behaviour in a single incident that [had] nothing to do with abuse or maltreatment,” Moss mentioned.
“I handled it accordingly, and I stand by that.”
The Gymnastics Canada board of administrators has additionally been overhauled since Bard left, in response to present board chair Jeff Thomson.
Amid the requires an impartial third-party investigation, Gymnastics Canada employed McLaren International Sport Options this summer time to assist design a tradition evaluate for the group and analyze its nationwide secure sport insurance policies and procedures. McLaren is ready to launch a public report in January 2023.
The group additionally just lately signed on to entry the companies of the brand new Workplace of the Sport Integrity Commissioner (OSIC), which was created to supply a one-stop, totally impartial grievance investigator. It will likely be an official member no later than Dec. 2.
St-Onge’s workplace has suspended funding to Gymnastics Canada, pending affirmation the group has joined OSIC.